The Organic Traveller
Friday, 03 February 2023

Munich: Zero Waste

Organic supermarkets may introduce a larger audience to sustainable organic produce and thus spare the environment, but do not necessarily help to reduce the amount of one-way packaging, save plastics. As a conscious consumer you will without doubt prefer non-prepackaged fruit and veges, available from all organic groceries, supermarkets and market boothes, and hand your bag over the bakery counter, making it verbally clear that you do not need a paper bag, to avoid paper waste when buying bread and rolls.

You're also safe if you restrict your shopping of dairy products, juices and soft drinks to returnable glass bottles. Some organic shops (such as Vollcorner) offer a small selection of wine in deposit bottles. Since 2021 we also have seen the gradual arrival of dry food, preserves and spreads in returnable glasses formerly only used for yogurts.

Starting in 2017 the more dedicated organic supermarket chains have been introducing measures to reduce packaging and allow customers to bring their own containers to fill with selected goods. Unless stated otherwise all shops mentioned in this post will help you out with clean and empty reusable glass jars or organic cotton bags which you – depending on the shop – can either buy or lend if you forgot to bring your own.

Package-free food and household necessities

On February 20th, 2016 the city's first crowd-funded vegetarian zero-waste supermarket Ohne ("without") opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Maxvorstadt. Pleasantly furnished with wooden benches and self-made dispensers this modern version of a generously spaced mom-and-pop store gives you a pleasant vacation from brands and logos. It is offering bread, rolls and sweet pastries from a local artisanal bakery, dairy products and vegan alternatives in returnable bottles, spices and dried herbs, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, coffee, tahin, honey, oil, toothpaste tablets and assorted solid shampoos and soap bars. Most sweets, toothpaste tablets, protein powder, matcha and other expensive products the staff will fill into your containers at the till.

Ohne Maxvorstadt

There are also refill stations for washing detergents, cleansers and liquid hair and body washes, and you can shop from (currently quite basic) range of household and bodycare products. Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers, and increasingly also in deposit glasses. Since 2022 the range of goods has also been including ready-made convenience food like vegetarian bolognese and curry in retour glasses. The sale of fresh greens and fruits was discontinued.

Your shopping starts by measuring the weight of your glasses, boxes and bags on the scales next to the entrance door. Now you can fill them from the dispensers and finally pay by net weight. Be kind and wash your hands when entering the shop, for extra hygiene.

When the shop is crowded waiting time at the till is a little longer than you might expect, but take your time and have a coffee and home-made cake in the small cafe corner.

Ohne Haidhausen

A second branch opened January 23, 2019 in the neighbourhood of Haidhausen, a few steps from Rosenheimer Platz S-Bahn station. This shop is also equipped with a proper espresso machine, and offers snacks – you can have a sandwich, a slice of cake or a buttered pretzl. It's usually less crowded which also explains why you may find it closed for some days during school holidays, especially in the summer.

Servus Resi

The pandemic spring and summer of 2020 saw a blossoming of zero-waste groceries in the South and West of town: Approximately at the same time as the Westend got its neighbourhood shop, Servus Resi opened in Obersendling right before the lockdown in March 2020, in a non-descript middle of no-where near the Siemenswerke former industrial area. But don't let you fool from the uninviting environment at a noisy car road – what you'll find here is a busy neighbourhood gem nicely furnished in light wood, with a superb selection of dried herbs and spices aside the usual dry food, and a nicely arranged selection of household items. The greengrocery section is rather limited – local organic apples and potatoes in late autumn 2020 –, and there are no dairy or other food requiring cooling, but the shop offers both, liquid body care products and household chemicals from refill stations. Everything is supervised by the friendly shop-owner, Chrissy (not Resi) herself, and if you wish to get in touch with people from the neighbourhood take the burden to come here even from other parts of town.

In Laim Nebenan unverpackt ("package-free next door") followed in summer 2020. The latter is organised as a co-operative (though the location next to a co-operative bank is purely accidental) and sports a small neighbourhood coffee place. They offer a slightly bigger selection of dry food than the Ohne shops, fresh fruit and veges, but less dried herbs and spices and no spirits. You can however buy wine and their selction of condiments and preserves in one-way glasses have the effect that you can do all the regular daily shopping here in one place if you don't come with more advanced expectations.

Deine Alternative

Half a year earlier, in January, 2020 another co-operative, Deine Alternative ("your alternative") in Zorneding, opened on the premises of the former Raiffeisen co-operative bank, just a few steps from the urban train station. When you get inside you will however immediately forget about its past as a bank, the shop is carefully and pleasantly decorated, with wooden furniture and equipped with a proper Italian coffee machine for a break in between. Most of the often local produce sold here is organically certified or at minimum sustainably produced, though it would be nice if conventional loose-weight products were clearly marked. In addition to the gravity bins and containers with dry food there's a decent selection of dried herbs and spices, sweets, bread, some confectionery, a small selection of fresh organic greens and veges, cheese and milk from the Nirschlhof organic farm (but interestingly enough no whole-meal flour or oils, vinegars or spirits by the litre). In a separate room you can buy toiletries, household chemicals and items supporting a zero-waste lifestyle. Everyone is welcome, but members of the co-operative pay less. If you live in the municipality of Zorneding you can pre-order a daily changing lunch dish to take home on weekdays or a covid-19 emergency food box that will be delivered home for those in quarantine.

The neighbourhood of Trudering (a more than 1200 years old former village and suburb in the Eastern part of Munich) does not have a dedicated zero waste supermarket, but twice a month, on Tuesday afternoons, an indoor farmer's market dubbed Tante Trude ("Auntie Trudie") keeps popping up in the neighborhood associations' offices. Organic farmers offer local produce, and you can donate to the Trudelade project: home-cooked jam made from abandoned fruit trees in the neighbourhood (you'll get a jar as reward).

South-South-West of Munich, the city of Wolfratshausen (the endpoint of the S7 urban train) likewise sports a package-free shop centrally located at the Obermarkt market place: Ohnverpackt, another zero-waste shop opening within the corona lockdown in the spring of 2020, is even certified organic. The few conventional products of regional origin are clearly marked as an exception. It does not only offer the usual dry food and household chemicals, but also a good selection of cheese and antipasti. What you won't find are fresh fruits and veges, meat and sausages. There's a small day cafe, unfortunately all closed on Mondays.

Hertscheck unpacked

South of Munich, directly located at the S-Bahn station of Neubiberg the owner of the conventional Edeka supermarket opened a side project next door, Hertscheck Unpacked which hopefully attracts people who usually wouldn't buy off the conventional supermarket tracks. Although not marked most of the unpackaged dry food is organic – the shop assistant explained that since the shop itself isn't certified but fills the gravity bins and glass jars from bigger packages it isn't allowed to declare the products as "bio". There's also a good selection of loose-weight natural body care (both, in solid and liquid form) and household chemistry from brands I haven't found elsewhere. You can refill organic gin and regional (though not organic) whisky. The highlight of the shop are grow cabinets with special lamps where a good selection of herbs is grown, naturally free from agrochemicals. For city dwellers the place most certainly is worth a little bicycle ride (through the beautiful eco park Umweltgarten Neubiberg where an organic farmer's market is held on Thursday afternoons) or urban train tour even though the place has less liberal opening hours than the conventional supermarket next door. Fun fact: The former premises of the Edeka supermarket now host a Vollcorner organic supermarket.

Abgefuellt und unverpackt

Plastic-free household

In March 2019 a tiny neighbourhood shop specializing in natural home cleaning opened in the Glockenbach neighbourhood: At Abgefüllt & unverpackt ("bottled and unpacked") the singer of the Munich-based band "Cat Sun Flower" warmly welcomes customers and passers-by and helps to (re)fill empty bottles with organic liquid household detergents. At the time of writing this shop was the only one in Munich selling washing powder by weight. In addition there are eco-friendly dishwasher tabs, body and hair soaps, fairly traded natural facecream in returnable glasses, towels, as well as upcycled and fairly traded bags and toiletry accessories.

About 20 years ago, Munich got its first – and to my knowledge only – organic department store centrally located a few steps from the Isartor: It consists of the city's first branch of the Basic supermarket chain with a self-service cafe on the ground floor and both, a self-service restaurant and a fashion and beauty store on the first floor. The latter, Beauty & Nature, is a reliable source of organic clothes (with a focus on women and children), body care, home decoration, toys, dietary supplements and all types of sustainable household items including shoe shine, candles, seeds, cutting boards, or floor clothes. Long anticipated, they started to offer refill for household detergents of the Sonett brand by the end of 2021, with a 10 percent discount. Since the staff is knowledgeable, friendly and helpful, do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

Supermarket chains

In autumn 2016 the local Vollcorner supermarkets received an official permit by the Munich Department of Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) to fill their customers' jars and boxes with cheese, antipasti, processed meat products or cake. The Basic supermarket chain followed in summer 2017, while independent convenience stores often have done so anyway. So take appropriate containers with you when you go out to shop for food or ask the staff to fill your order into returnable glass jars (Vollcorner, Lebascha and others) or stainless steel containers (Basic).

To avoid misunderstandings it is advisable to clearly point to your box (or ask for the deposit container) before placing your order at the sales counter and tell the staff to tape the receipt to it. Otherwise you may end up not sparing any waste: In the beginning the staff at the Basic butcher's disk would use the sheet of plastic-covered paper they'd usually wrap the purchase with to hand it over to you, along with the receipt taped onto the paper bag they otherwise would have used as outer packaging. In the mean time they got used to the procedure but were ordered to decline customer requests to buy meat this way. Since they started to provide stainless steel boxes for a deposit of 7 EUR there's however no excuse for one-way packaging here anymore. Artisanal organic butcher's shops will also fill meat into boxes you provide. The Herrmannsdorfer groceries (e.g. the one at Max-Weber-Platz) reward you with a few cents discount per saved packaging.

Until the end of 2022 Basic supermarkets had gravity bin dispensers for pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, grains and more. But since the company announced threatening insolvency these have been removed and the package-free offerings were reduced to fruits and vegetables as well as food from the serviced bakery and butchers' counters.

For a little while all Basic supermarkets in Munich offered detergents for refill, but they seem to have disappeared, too. Early in 2023 I found however containers to return empty cleaning agents bottles of the Sonett brand at the main branch in Bogenhausen – the producer is collecting them for controlled re-cycling into new bottles.

The shops of the nation-wide operating Alnatura chain never offered refill dispensers. However, it has been increasing the range of products in returnable jars and bottles continously since 2021 – among others fairly traded nut butters, a number of dry products and even ketchup.

Assorted food in deposit glasses at Vollcorner Theresienwiese

Dried fruits and nuts and (as a recent addition) vegan savoury spreads in refundable glasses as well as package-free toilet paper can also be bought from Vollcorner supermarkets. Their huge flagship store at Theresienwiese (with butcher's counter and lunch cafe) also experimented with a milk vending machine but this has been discontinued since 2019. Since 2022 there is however a dedicated shelf offering an impressive range of products in deposit glasses.

By the end of 2020 a number of conventional supermarket chains had introduced refill stations for dry food, too, but since you still have to do a lot of careful reading in front of the shelves to shop climate-friendly products, I won't mention them here, with one exception: the huge Tegut branch that opened in the Elisenhof shopping centre next to the main train station in December 2020. This supermarket chain really gives their customers a choice – all organic products are easily to recognise thanks to a light-green label on the shelves, and there's a great number of them in all product categories. Given the sheer number of products on sale the impressive refill rack at the left-hand side of the entrance aisle comprises only a negligible fraction of total sales, but it's a good start, and the best: All products in the gravity bins are organic, and they have the biggest selection of package-free organic chocolate-covered sweets I've come across so far. There are grains, cereals, nuts, dried fruit, legumes and sweets, but no flour and surprisingly almost no pasta.

Package-free refill station Tegut Elisenhof

Although the supermarket has its entrance next to the Sunday-open (and if you ask me generally more pleasant) organic supermarket Biokultur in the Hauptbahnhof basement Tegut is closed on Sundays and public holidays as well as in the evening. When you have at minimum half an hour to change trains you will however reach to refill some of your dry food containers as long as you know how it works: Put your box onto the scales and choose "Tara-Bon". This will print a label. Fill the box and remember the product id on the lower end of the gravity bin. Put the filled box back on the scales and press the second "Bon" button beneath the "Tara-Bon" button. Now you will be asked to type in the product id. Scan the bar code on the previously printed label with the hand scanner, and there you go: A receipt with a price tag will be printed for you. Seal your box with this second label and hurry up to the cash counter.

Neighbourhood groceries

In Haidhausen the Lebascha neighbourhood grocery has been offering to fill all loose-weight products (cakes and bread, eggs, cheeses, olives, jelly gums and liquorice – only the latter is not organic) in bottles, jars and boxes customers brought along. When the shop was taken over by the Ökoesel co-operative dispensers for grains, nuts and the like as well as household chemicals were added, and you can also buy all types of herbs and spices by the gram. Ask for a deposit box in case you forgot to bring your own.

For home-made dried fruit stroll a few more steps down the street and step by Haidhauser Oase.

Household chemicals can be refilled at the Echt Bio Markt in Neuschwabing and at the Biochicco supermarket in the Au near Mariahilf-Platz. At the latter you can only refill original bottles of the Sonett label.

In Harlaching, the independent Biowelt supermarket has a small zero-waste corner with dispensers for dry food, a good selection of loose-weight dried fruit and a dairy and butchers' counter where you can hand over your containers.

Mobile Tagwerk booth at Mariahilf-Platz farmer's market

Farmers' markets

Once, sometimes twice a week farmers' markets are installed in many Munich neighbourhoods. Loose fruits and veges prevail here, and boothes selling organic produce (watch carefully for "bio" and "demeter" logos) will usually fill bread, cakes and pastries, antipasti, meat and dairy products into the containers you present. Notably at the boothes of the Tagwerk co-operative and the Hofbäckerei Steingraber you may be surprised to see that you're not the only one coming with her own boxes and jars.

On Saturday mornings you can find them next to the West-facing entry of Mariahilf church, in the neighbourhood of Au. Before the covid-19 pandemics all boothes (except the French fish monger) in the market block next to the church, right below the carillon, were organic, but now it's no longer that easy. Therefore a comprehensive list: There are three organic market gardens (Biogärtnerei an der Isen alias Avanti Andi, Demeterhof Fahrenzhausen alias O'is bio and a third one also selling flowers and seedlings which you will immediately recognise when greeted with a friendly French accent). Put differently: Simply avoid the biggest greengrocery booth, "Helminger".

For meat, sausages, cheese and other dairy products there are the aforementioned two producers, and in addition the farm sale of Bergwinklhof Monigottsöd. The latter also offers a small selection of wine, but for good and knowledgeable advise on wines or non-alcoholic drinks to accompany a meal you'll better pay a visit to Uli Scheffler's organic wine trader's booth. While the juices are readly available in deposit bottles, returnable wine bottles are still very rare, and not used for high-quality wines.

If you feel adventurous on Thursday afternoons take the urban train S7 in direction Aying/Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn/Kreuzstraße (or a bike ride) to the suburb of Neubiberg and pay a visit to the communal organic market on the pleasant premises of the Umweltgarten eco park, a true oasis within ugly suburbanity, with a small zoo, popular not only among kids. On Thursdays there's also an all-day market at Rotkreuzplatz. As on Mariahilfsplatz about half the boothes here are organic, though scattered all over the market area, with a cluster in direction Nymphenburger Straße.

Needless to say that the organic boothes on the famous Viktualienmarkt in the Munich city will happily support you when you make it clear that you want to use your own bags and containers. And the spring of 2021 did not only see the opening of an organic bakery in one of the solid market stalls in the northern part of the market, but also a tiny organic food shop for organic dry food grown and produced in the nearby Chiemgau region: Satt und gut ("full and good") sells staple foods like grains, flour, eggs, honey and oil but also cookies, both pre-packaged and loose weight, partially from the smallest gravity bins I've seen so far. Note that this shop, unlike the market itself, is closed on Mondays

Biohof Lenz

In Zorneding a small farmers' market is being held every Friday on the premises of the Biohof Lenz organic farm. Here you can buy local organic meat and meat products, cheese, bread, veges, and occasionally honey and bee products, wines and spirits. Although most stalls are organic there are a few exceptions offering conventionally produced specialities. The Lenz family's own farm shop keeps open at the same time and on Saturdays, but for buying their exceptionally good meat you should subscribe to their newsletter and order beforehand according to availability (you should be fast to answer). Unfortunately all the Lenz meat and sausages are vacuumized in plastic.

Bio-Gärtnerei Kamlah

At the Western edge of town, in Pasing the organic market garden of Bio-Gärtnerei Kamlah has a farm shop open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. You can not only buy salads and vegetables grown here but also organic seedlings for your balcony or garden patch. The farm has also a market stall at the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt which keeps open all days except Sunday offering a huge selections of organic fruit and veges, but no seedlings.

Tea shops

While coffee is readily available from loose weight convenience stores, tea drinkers aren't well catered for: Usually you will find some tisanes and one or two types of black tea. Fortunately specialist tea shops still exist, and as they sell loose weight teas by the gram don't be shy and ask them to fill your tea box.

In the Tee Gschwendner shop in the Asamhof backyard a few meters from the new pedestrian street of Sendlinger Straße this will work as long as the opening of your jar or box is wide enough for the shop assistant to fill it without touching it with her shovel. The franchise also sells conventional fare, so make sure to insist on organic quality – "Bio-Qualität" is the keyword. You'll find a decent selection of both, green, black and herbal teas, with and without aromatics. Bring a little time to stroll through the light and pleasant shop that has been at this place since the 1980ies, ask the assistant to show and suggest teas according to your taste and tell a little detail. When all your teas are filled into your jars you will be asked whether you fancy a tea sample, so it is smart to bring an additional small glass or jar. Mind you that green tea doesn't store well in classic metal tea boxes as this material supports further oxidation processes.

In spring 2022 it turned out to be difficult to buy loose-weight organic flavoured tea as compliance to the EU regulation 2018/848 on organic products had not been established in time.

Coffee and food to take away

At Basic self-service cafes, the Ohne supermarkets, Siggis coffee bar and restaurant and an increasing number of other coffee places you may lend a Recup coffee cup for a deposit which you can return at any other shop participating in the retour scheme.

Some like the Neulinger bakeries and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a small discount for sparing the environment.

Most of the eateries reviewed here will fill your food into the boxes you provide for take-away as long as you make this clear before they start their usual routine which still means one-way packaging. Sushi to take away is available from Sushiya, and they will happily accept your bento boxes with your order.

Organic supermarkets which reduced their zero-waste approach

Between 2017 and 2022 supermarkets of the Basic chain had a clear focus on package- and plastic-free daily supplies. In 2023 the management stopped most of these efforts, and Basic went back to where it came from: being an ordinary supermarket, offering organic products only.

Closed

2023-02-03 17:00:00 [Munich, Neubiberg, Gilching, Trudering, Wolfratshausen, Zorneding, Au, Haidhausen, Harlaching, Laim, Maxvorstadt, Pasing, Westend, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, bakeries, butcher, tea, bodycare, household, sushi, wine] Link

Creative Commons Licence

This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Dresden: Zero Waste

If you are looking for pioneers in the German zero waste movement you'll find one of them in Dresden's Neustadt neighbourhood: Pack a selection of glasses, containers and bags and stop by Lose ("loose-weight"), a cosy zero-waste corner store in Böhmische Straße. Unlike other package-free supermarkets this one does not only sell dry food, natural body care and household chemicals but also offers veges and has a cheese counter. Although most of the products are organic some are not, so you might want to check the labels on the suspenders for the bio keyword or ask.

Lose

The interior of the shop was refurbished recently and is now much lighter and seems spacier than before. The reason for this is that the coffee corner which had been there before the corona pandemic has decreased and the serviced counter for bakery products, cheeses, antipasti and coffee moved from the entrance area to the backpart of the shop. Mind you: like other package-free shops Lose does not have an illuminated window front, so be brave to try the door handle – the place may look quite dark even when open.

In April 2019 a second zero waste supermarket opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Pieschen: crowd-funded Quäntchen (the name of an old weight unit, denoting about 4 grams), and by the end of 2022 it looks as if the place is about to close for good, sharing the fate of far too many zero-waste supermarkets these days.

The newest zero waste shop is Binnes unverpackt in the Eastern neighbourhood of Striesen. It's not just a classical zero waste self-service supermarket but offers meal-prep ("Kochboxen"), too: You choose the recipe for delivery next week in their online store, and you can collect all ingredients weighted according to the recipe in returnable glass jars. They also offer a selection of hemp (CBD) products.

Supermarkets with zero-waste stations

Moreover all shops of the co-operatively organised local wholesale chain VG Biomarkt offer a good selection of loose-weight organic dry goods (in addition to an abundance of often locally produced fruit and veges and dairy products and drinks of all kinds in returnable glass bottles).

VG Mitte

Their main shop is located near Bahnhof Mitte train station, an entire organic warehouse on the premises of a former newspaper printing plant. Standing back from the main street the first floor is occupied by an organic convenience store supporting your zero-waste efforts. On the second floor there's a well assorted organic fashion store mainly for babies, children and women, with a section offering organic body care, household chemicals, sustainably produced toys, stationary and more. For members prices are lower, but the warehouse is open to everyone.

On weekdays the self-service bistro directly facing the street offers delicious lunch (only snacks on Saturdays), and there's a cafe cum bakery shop featuring young local artists.

VG Balsamico

VG Biomarkt also has branches in the neighbourhoods of Neustadt (Hechtviertel), Striesen, Johannstadt, Strehlen, and Loschwitz,

The Loschwitz branch dubbed VG Balsamico is conveniently located opposite the downhill station of the cable-run suspension railway ("Schwebebahn") next to Körnerplatz at the northern end of Blaues Wunder ("blue wonder") bridge.

Opening hours and assortment (of loose-weight products as of products in returnable glasses) vary depending on the size of the market and the neighbourhood. However, all VG markets offer free drinking water refill stations and you can book cargo bikes to transport your purchase home free of charge.

While these local groceries were early adopters a number of nation-wide operating organic supermarket chains have been following. In Dresden all branches of the Berlin-based supermarket chain Bio Company introduced dry food suspenders for use with your own jars.

Denns Biomarkt Alaunstraße

In 2021 the Denns Biomarkt was the first branch of this chain where I found a dedicated shelf with fairly traded dry food in retour glasses and a few gravity bins with nuts, seeds, rice and noodles. A start at least, although I have my doubts that this small selection will be sufficient to nudge people towards the extra effort it takes to bring along glasses and jars.

Farmshops and factory outlets

Bauernhof Franz

When you take the Elberadweg bicycle route on the southern shore in direction Niederwartha you'll pass a nice old farmyard, the organic Bauernhof Franz in Niedergohlis. It runs a subscription scheme – phone in or e-mail your order until Wednesday and collect it from the farmshop on Fridays and Saturdays, but if you happen to step by on one of these days and there's someone around you may be able to buy vegetable oil and perhaps also potatoes or other produce from the farm.

In 2022 Vegannett, a Weißer Hirsch-based producer of vegan spreads, started filling products in standardized returnable deposit glasses which you can buy directly from the manufacturer on Wednesdays.

Map of all places listed in this article

More to try

For more vegan alternatives to cheese, meat and sausages head for Die vegane Fleischerei in the Neustadt. January, 2023 a vegan "butcher shop" opened here, and they assured me that all of their products are made from predominantly organic ingredients. They also offer ready-made "meat" salads and soups, and I'm looking forward to visit the shop in person. Don't forget to take boxes and jars with you.

(Temporarily?) closed

2023-01-10 22:15:00 [Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, vegan, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, bodycare, household, hemp] Link

Creative Commons Licence

This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Salzburg: Organic restaurants, eateries, and cafes

To find a place offering at least partially organic meals, snacks or coffee isn't a big deal in Salzburg, and places like the Bio-Burgermeister are frequent tourist destinations. But there's more than just healthy organic fast food – from pleasantly modernized Austrian bars over cultured beer spots to slightly esoteric day cafes there's a broad range of places to choose from. What you shouldn't expect are authentic restaurants offering elaborated international cuisines, but that's probably not what you are here for anyway.

Burgers

When you're hungry and don't know where to go head for the Bio-Burgermeister in the middle of busy Linzergasse pedestrian street. With its liberal opening hours (no closing day, open until 10 pm) and central location this no-frills burger grill is serving both, meat, vegetarian, and vegan versions, purely made with organic ingredients. The service is swift, the burgers and side-dishes fresh, crisp and tasty, and most of the soft drinks and the beer are organic, too (though you have to check the bottles for organic labelling). The hot varieties I would describe as spicy rather than hot, and they come up with interesting seasonal versions like the pumpkin burger with a pumpkin patty. For meat patties you can choose between medium-done and medium-rare. The place serves neither desserts nor coffee.

Unfortunately it has implemented bad habits of conventional fast-food places, too: It produces a lot of waste since the meals are served on cardboard one-way plates, and the staff is neither busy cleaning the tables nor refilling paper towels.

ludwig

If the burgermeister is too crowded or you prefer to produce less waste a burger restaurant is just a few steps away: The Ludwig doesn't promise fully organic burgers, but organic patties made from organic beef, turkey or mushrooms, organic pulled pork and bacon. In addition to burgers the place also serves salad bowls, desserts and breakfast (including organic eggs in a number of varieties). Among the drinks fruit juices and teas are organic.

Located in a pleasant backyard with a small fountain this cafe cum restaurant is also a much nicer place to spend time with friends or family – during the warm season on the spacious terrace, on rainy or cold days in the large urban-rustic dining room.

Urbankeller

Austrian

The Urbankeller is not just a perfect address for a rustic meal accompanied by local organic beer, wine, juice or lemonade in the restaurant or a civilised drink at the adjacent bar. It also houses a stage for live acts – predominantly rock, jazz or experimental theatre, and the occasional crime play reading. Although the place is certified by Bio Austria not everything is organic. Fully organic dishes however are clearly marked with a green logo on the menu, and a good deal of the un-marked meat-based dishes (including nose-to-tail ones using offal) are served with organic meat (check for the "bio" keyword). Vegan and vegetarian options are also available. If you consider one of the typical Austrian flour-based desserts ("Mehlspeisen") make sure to come with sufficient appetite.

Schallmooser Hauptstraße where the Urbankeller is located changes its name to Linzergasse (or Linzer Gasse, the naming is not consistent) when it runs over into a pedestrian area towards the river Salzach. Amid its touristic jumble you'll find the Stadtkrug, a family-owned hotel and restaurant of old, with roots in the 14th century. The family runs an organic highland cattle farm north of Salzburg and serves the beef at the restaurant specialising in typical Austrian dishes. The farm has its own slaughterhouse on premise which allows the cattle to die as stress-free as possible within their known habitat. The chicken served in the Stadtkrug is also organic as are some hard cheeses and the ice-cream and other products made from sheep's milk. The breakfast at the hotel unfortunately is not organic.

Directly located on Linzergasse, almost down by the river, but nevertheless not a place that tourists will recognise at a first glance, the Innergebirg restaurant serves traditional Austrian mountain cuisine with local ingredients from the Pongau, the Pinzgau and the Salzburger Land areas. All the meat comes from the Rostatt organic farm (which also is a farm stay). Note that the restaurant is closed on Sundays.

Another beergarden down in the old town is associated with the local brewery Die Weisse specializing in weiss beer. They also brew one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic organic variety (watch out for the bio label) which nicely go together with a hearty Austrian meal – the beef here is organic and you may ask the waiter for likely other organic ingredients. Of course there's indoor seating, too.

Humboldt-Stubn patio

On the other side of the Salzach river September 2018 saw the opening of a new fully organic, predominantly biodynamic restaurant and bar opposite the museum of modern art inside the Mönchsberg cliff, the Humboldt, a pleasantly modernized version of an Austrian "Gaststube", with geometric dark-wooden interior, a light-and-steam installation serving as a fire place surrogate, green cushions, table-clothes made from felt, and a green-lighted bar. For lunch on weekdays you can choose between two set menus consisting of a soup or salad (your choice), and a vegetarian or omnivore main dish which come at 9 or 11 euros, respectively. In the evening the kitchen emphasizes on Austrian signature dishes like the Viennese Schnitzel (a delicate, crisp, yet melting dream), boiled filet ("Tafelspitz"), and pancakes ("Palatschinken") as dessert (which were quite unexceptional). The menu clearly marks organic, biodynamic, vegan and vegetarian items and also lists the sources of all ingredients which usually are Austrian farms and producers, often located in the vicinity. In all drink classes organic options are available, and often you have no choice but to drink organic. The bar keeps open until late each day, making it the perfect place for an evening out, and there's outdoor seating, too.

Indian

Back in town, just a few steps from the Stadtkrug vegetarian fusion food with roots in the Indian cuisines has been served for almost 20 years at Spicy Spices. This pleasant eatery may not be the place for the romantic dinner but is a nice location for a chat with friends, accompanied by a healthy lunch, a coffee, chai and/or cake, all organic. You can also shop for their home-made spice mixtures, chutneys and pickles which make tasty gifts.

International

The second surviving organic restaurant of old also draws its inspiration from the subcontinent and East-Western fusion. The Heart of Joy is a vegetarian (vegan friendly), predominantly organic cafe cum eatery run by followers of Sri Shinmoy. The latter is openly presented which may not be your idea of the perfect surroundings for a recreational sip of coffee or an Italian, Austrian, oriental or Indian inspired lunch in this otherwise pleasant location. Students are entitled a ten percent discount, and breakfast on weekends is being served all day.

For a simple lunch or a piece of home-made organic cake you may also try the A* bar in nearby Auerspergstraße.

Klein und Fein

While hotel (gastro) bars may not be for everybody the next opportunity is just around the corner: In 2022 a tiny delicatessen, Klein und fein, opened opposite the inn Die Weisse. It's a one-man show run by a friendly guy from Munich, with Croatian roots. In a small one-table living room Milan offers home-made organic breakfast, lunch, dinner or a coffee (and cake) break and a chat where he knowledgeable promotes his carefully selected natural products predominantly of Austrian, Croatian and Italian origin. Not all of them are organically certified, but he knows the farmers and artisans behind and has a story about each of them. If you like wine or gin it may be difficult to leave without a bottle.

Rochushof bistro restaurant

For a fully organic breakfast, lunch or snack in the neighbourhood of Maxglan, pay a visit to Rochushof, an organic supermarket with a light-flooded verandah restaurant overlooking the adjacent Stiegl brewery. To enter the place walk to the back of the supermarket, and – for lunch – choose between a vegetarian soup, a vegetarian and an omnivore main dish. Contrary to many organic supermarket bistros you will be served here. The kitchen closes on weekdays at 5pm, on Saturdays there's breakfast only.

If you are near the main train station on a weekday during daytime the bistro Leichtsinn ("carelessness") is worth a try. You'll find it if you leave the train station in western direction via Südtiroler Platz and walk in southern direction along Rainerstraße parallel to the tracks until you reach Elisabethstraße. Tea, beer, and cheese are always organic here, and the owners promise to prefer organic and regional ingredients, but admit that some ingredients such as avocados definitely won't be organic. Unfortunately I did not get an answer to whether the meat and other products of animalic origin are organic, so better ask about them. The menu changes daily, and you always have the choice between a soup, one vegan, one vegetarian and one meat- or fish-based dish in addition to salads (mix your own from the salad bar), home-made foccachia sandwiches, wraps, quiches, and empanadas (the owner-chief originates from Ecuador). The place is great for breakfast, there are home-made cakes (also vegan), shortbreads and fair-trade coffee, and if you need provisions for your travel, simply order to take away.

Fine dining restaurants in the 2020ies can be reasonably expected to work together with small-scale organic gardeners, bakers and/or butchers, but they often do this in the closet. So I found the Genussprojekt at Ursulinenplatz, with a view on the river Salzach, but I am disappointed to report that the only classified organic ingredients on their menu are fruit juices and beef. Beef-lovers may give it a try and ask about the veges, the flour, and whether there are natural wines, too. So far no first-hand review from me yet.

Italian

Arguably the city's best pizza can be had when entering a non-descript entrance on Franz-Josef-Straße south of Paris-Lodron-Straße: Here you find a place boringly dubbed Organic Pizza Salzburg, and this is exactly what it is: A totally unpretentious venue serving glorious 100% organic pizza in vegetarian, vegan and omnivore varieties, all well worth their 9.80 to 16.80 EUR. Instead of the standard base made from wheat you may order one made with spelt. Choose your drinks from the fridge (most, but not all organic), and have a home-made organic and vegan cake with fairly traded ingredients and/or a locally produced ice-cream to end your meal. No frills, just love, and in contrast to other fast food places covered here you will be served on real plates instead of paper waste. Unfortunately the place is closed on Mondays and Sundays.

Vegan

For Italian and decidedly vegan food (including pizza) you have to wait for the re-opening of Vegitalian. This no-frills restaurant stepped in as the hotel restaurant of The Keep near Salzburg Hauptbahnhof train station between spring and autumn 2022 and is planning a re-opening in Nonntal. It's not 100% organic, but most ingredients come from regional and/or organic producers. No further review here (yet) since I haven't had the chance to visit.

Just a few steps from Organic Pizza Salzburg you'll find a novelty in the city: a crowd-founded vegan cafe. The Gustav serves breakfast, sandwiches, soups and salads as well as smoothies and cakes, everything predominantly organic. Unfortunately it is closed most days of the week, so check below to avoid a bad surprise.

For a vegan or vegetarian, partially organic lunch, dinner or weekend brunch the neighbourhood of Gneis was a pleasant destination before the Covid-19 pandemics. Then chef Julia and her happily carnivore dog announced a refurbishment of the The Green Garden, and I am still waiting to see a re-opening. The place consisted of two locations, a daily (except Mondays) open restaurant, and a cafe cum wine bar annex. There was no general commitment to organic certification, but Julia promised to use predominantly fresh seasonal Austrian ingredients as far as possible produced without chemically synthesized fertilizers and preservatives. The tea (including iced tea), most wines, some beers, eggs and goat cheese were certified organic. On the menu you were to find bowls, soups, salads, vegan burgers as well as pasta and vegetable versions of Austrian signature dishes like the schnitzel, but the place was great for breakfast and healthy snacks, too. During the nice season The Green Garden sold vegan organic ice-cream to both, guests and passers-by.

Coffee and cakes

For the real coffee thing head for Röstzimmer 15 a few meters from "Spicy Spices". A cosy living room serving artisanal (though not necessarily organically certified) chocolates and pastries with Ethiopian organic coffee roasted in the room next door where you also can have a small lunch.

An Italian-style coffee drink prepared with organic milk can also be had at Fabis Frozen Bioyogurt.

Fancy an organic coffee drink on the go, made with organic milk or plant-based drink, on your way from the old town before crossing the Mozartsteg pedestrian bridge over the river Salzach? Take your coffee mug and stop by what's arguably the city's tiniest coffee house, We love coffee. Unfortunately they do not have any eathenware and will serve their Italian-style coffee or flat whites in a paper cup. What a waste – since I did not have a cup at hand I cannot say anything about the quality.

When you take a stroll or bicycle tour along the river Salzach in southern direction (towards castle and zoo Hellbrunn) stop by the farm cafe of the Bienenlieb beekeepers. You may simply step by for a coffee break or a home-made organic soup with honey bread, but if you are planning to have breakfast on Saturday (from March through December) make sure to call upfront for reservation.

Map of all places listed in this article

Temporarily closed

Closed or no longer organic

2022-11-27 17:00:00 [Salzburg, organic, lunch, dinner, takeaway, restaurant, cafe, eatery, coffee, ice-cream, fastfood, vegetarian, vegan, Austrian, Indian, burgers, pizza, supermarkets, grocery, wine, beergarden] Link

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Sunday, 20 November 2022

Salzburg: Zero Waste

While buying organic requires little effort in Salzburg, minimising waste is an entirely different issue. If you wish to carry home your purchases in your own re-usable containers you depend on the cooperation of the shop, which even in organic supermarkets can be surprisingly little. The covid-19 pandemics was the beginning as well as the end of the (to my knowledge) only dedicated organic pay-by-weight grocery, GenussProGramm (a pun which can be translated as both, "pleasure by the gram" or "pleasure program") in the neighbourhood of Andräviertel.

Medousa

So what's left? As in other cities farmers' markets are a good bet: The Medousa market booth at the Grünmarkt opposite Fabi's Frozen Bio Yogurt within Mozart's birthplace offers to fill Italian-style antipasti and other mediterranean and vegetarian delicatessen into your jars, provided you ask for it. Although the market at Grünmarkt is held daily, there are no organic boothes on Mondays and Thursdays; the Medousa booth is here on Saturdays only. On Thursday mornings you can find it at the Schrannenmarkt opposite Mirabell castle.

Offsite tourist tracks but on your way to Hellbrunn castle or zoo you'll find the only Salzburg branch of the organic supermarket chain Basic which allows you to shop most daily necessities without producing non-compostable waste.

To refill milk around the clock head for the milk vending machine at the Erentrudishof organic farm in Morzg, a pleasant bike ride from the city. There's also a farmshop, of course with more restricted opening hours, where you also can buy eggs, spelt, wheat and rye produced by the farm.

Artisanal bakeries

When buying bread, rolls, cake or snacks from organic bakeries you should by now no longer meet strange looks when presenting your bag or container. But organic bakeries in town seem to be afraid of advertising themselves as "bio", so it can be difficult to spot them.

The most stylish one of them is the Salzburg branch of Joseph Brot vom Pheinsten with its open baker's workshop a few steps away from the Mönchsberg elevator. Apart from deliciously smelling bread, rolls, cakes and snacks there's a small selection of dairy products, jams and preserves. You can also order organic (coffee) drinks and sit down on a table to have a snack or enjoy their patisserie. The bakery keeps open on Sunday mornings and public holidays.

Elisabethen-based artisanal bakery Pföß has a shop next to the Sternbräu area in the old town. Unfortunately only the bread is promised to be organic, the white rolls tasted bland as if they were made of conventional flour. On the other hand the Krapfen doughnuts were a real delight, crisp and still a little warm, filled with fruity apricot purree instead of oversweet jam. If you come here for a snack stay away from the conventional softdrinks, and you may wish to ask whether the sandwiches are made with organic toppings.

If you want to be sure to get 100 percent organic bakery products, visit the Grünmarkt at Universitätsplatz: Three days a week you'll find the booth of Bio-Bäckerei Itzinger on its Eastern side, near the Ritzerbogen hallway. The bakery also offers vegan bread and rolls and has a focus on wholemeal products. On Thursdays you can find it at the Schranne Biomarkt.

Plastic-free lifestyle

Zero waste starts with the food, but does not end there: In order to reduce the amount of plastics ending up as microplastic in our environment and finally in ourselves it's crucial to reduce the use of the (undoubtedly useful) polymers in general: Don't throw them all away at once (as the biggest part of the carbon footprint of goods is in their production), but replace your plastic household items or clothes with plastic-free alternatives as soon as they are about to degrade.

In Salzburg there's a store to help you with that: Damn Plastic in Münzgasse (around the corner from the Joseph bakery) offers almost the entire range of plastic-free (or recycled) non-food, for inspiration or replacement.

Map of all places listed in this article

Closed

2022-11-20 13:30:00 [Salzburg, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, bakeries, deli, market, breakfast, coffee, snacks, farms, fashion, bodycare, household] Link

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Sunday, 16 October 2022

Berlin: Organic Kreuzberg

Nowhere in Germany it is easier to adhere to an organic lifestyle than in its capital – provided you aim for appropriately inhabited neighbourhoods all you have to do is to keep your eyes open. Many of those neighbourhoods can be found in the administrative unit of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and this blog will cover only the tip of the iceberg, i.e. the places I found during a two-days visit. The places covered in the first two sections are all located in Kreuzberg 61, the neighbourhood considered the bourgeouis part of Kreuzberg.

Near Deutsches Technikmuseum

The German Museum of Technology near tube-station Möckernbrücke clearly is a place to spend hours in – but what if you start to feel hungry or the urge for a coffee? For the occasional tourist this wonderful museum seems to be located in the middle of nowhere, but don't dispair! Head East and follow Tempelhofer Ufer back to the tube station, and turn to the right after the second traffic-light. A few steps into Großbeerenstraße you will find an organic gem with roots back in former West-Berlin's green-alternative past. Today it's a friendly though a little worn-out grocery cum eatery dubbed Ökotussi ("eco-Sheila") run by a bunch of practical women. Stop by for a hearty vegetarian (usually vegan) lunch (the vegan lasagna we had was delicious and sufficient for two), a salad or snack or an Italian-style coffee drink.

Around Marheinekeplatz

Follow Zossener Straße from tube-stop Gneisenaustraße in Southern direction, and you'll end up in a neighbourhood that most eco-conscious people will consider the ultimate paradise: three organic (or predominantly organic) whole-sale supermarkets, four organic bakeries, four at minimum partially organic restaurants and eateries, and a number of other shops offering selected organic products, everything within a five minutes walk, all with liberal opening hours compared to the rest of Germany. The eateries of this neighbourhood dubbed Bergmannkiez try to outdo one another in advertising their vegan options – it seems a luxury to point out that vegan even here usually does not imply organic.

Restaurants and eateries

Promenading Bergmannstraße (which makes for the Southern border of Marheinekeplatz) to the West you will find Fratelli La Bionda, a decent Italian pizzeria using organic flour and tomatoes for their pizze. No place for lunch since the restaurant does not open before evening. If you take your seat around the tables on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, opposing a park with a children's playground you will kindly be asked to move inside around half past 9 pm. Since the eateries covered below all close between 8 and 9 pm (or even earlier during the weekend) this place is the only option for your evening out covered in this post.

This nicely restored mall is a Mekka for foodies. Opposite Friesenstraße you will find Piechas Bio-Buffet, a slow-food whole-organic grill. Although vegan and vegetarian dishes are offered, too, their focus is clearly on organic meat, from nose to tail. Arguably Berlin's best beef burgers are served here, and unlike other places they won't cook your meat to death when you forget to order rare. If you want to try Berliner Currywurst (curried sausage) and other German meat dishes at all – so here. Heavily frequented during lunch hours service can be a bit bumpy, and more frequent cleaning of the bar tables would often be nice. You can choose from an impressive range of organic softdrinks, or have beer or very decent cider made from apples organically grown in the wild of Berlin's surroundings. Mayonaise and ketchup for your fries have to be ordered separately.

If you walk around the booth you will find the counter of the organic butcher's shop where you can buy sausages, offal and all the cuts from free-range cattle and pigs kept well at small-scale organic farms in the vicinity and slaughtered respectfully.

Beumer & Lutum Kreuzberg

Bakeries

Lunch and coffee drinks are also being served by organic bakery Beumer & Lutum, a few steps north on Zossener Straße. If you want your coffee on the go make sure to bring your own mug which entitles you to a small discount. While the two organic bakery boothes within the Marheineke mallMehlwurm in the centre of the market hall, and Biobackhaus in the North-Eastern part – are closed on Sundays and open at 8 am, Beumer & Lutum is catering for the early bird Monday through Saturday from 7 am. It also used to keep open on Sundays, but that's past: Due to staff shortness in 2022 the shop is open only on weekday mornings. It offers a small selection of organic food items to complete your breakfast table. The bakery boothes in the mall still have longer opening hours, but do not serve coffee or lunch. Mehlwurm is the first bakery I know of offering an open source bread (with beetroot and walnuts).

For the sweet tooth

Italian-style organic coffee drinks can also be had from the Tanne b ice-cream parlour on the crossing of Zossener and Bergmannstraße. They use organic milk for their all-natural ice-creams served in vegan cones, and offer vegan options, too. Children are served slightly smaller scoops for the price of 80 cents (instead of 1.20 euros for regular servings). In 2019 the ice-cream season has been announced to start 7th March.

Conni Island

Around the corner from Fratelli La Bionda you'll find cosy Cafe Conni Island where you can treat yourself with lovely home-made, partially organic cakes and a coffee drink made with organic milk. The place is run by an artist whom you can hire to paint your walls with art, and since she usually serves herself the opening hours are restricted to afternoons and the second half of the week.

Supermarkets

With a branch of the vegan supermarket chain Veganz on the first floor of Marheineke-Markthalle facing Marheinekeplatz, a branch of Berlin-based organic wholesale chain Bio-Company on Bergmannstraße/Friesenstraße crossing and an Alnatura branch on the East-side of the park, all with liberal opening hours compared to German standards it's hard to find an excuse for not buying organic. The Bio-Company bakery booth even opens for the early bird at 7:30 am.

While both, Alnatura an Bio-Company sell exclusively organically certified items you have to be careful at Veganz: The grocery products and most of the German and Austrian brands on display are organic (and can be found in almost any other organic supermarket), but they also offer a lot of imported vegan products, and a great deal of them are not organic. Unfortunately these are not clearly marked on the shelves, so you should be familiar with organic branding outside the continent. On the plus side this Veganz supermarket introduced self-service dispensers offering more than 80 different dry products waiting to be filled in the containers you brought with you.

Shopping

If you're on a shopping spree or in search for a gift, and the body care sections of the organic supermarkets seem too boring, there's an organic beauty shop dubbed Belladonna in Bergmannstraße. Light and inviting, with a great selection of all kinds of natural creams, body lotions, perfumes, hair care, make-up and much more, both for men and women, this is a must-go for everyone, not just beauty addicts.

Tranquillo

Also need new clothes? One of the three Berlin-based shops of the Dresden-based organic fashion and interior design label Tranquillo is located right in the vicinity.

Around Schlesisches Tor

The Japanese go mad about Trippen shoes, and if you go for fairly and eco-consciously produced leather shoes of unusual design (some of the soles alone can be considered art) the Trippen factory outlet near tube stop Schlesisches Tor is definitely worth a visit. Unlike in their stylish flagship store within Hackesche Höfe you have to browse shoe boxes for your size, and all the pairs are remaining stock or have small defects like miscolourings. In return prices are well below usual market price. You will find children's, women's and men's shoes (even the ones better described as sculptures are astonishingly comfy), and the staff is very helpful.

Kreuzberg 36

One of the many organic groceries turned partially organic eateries and delis is Der Milchladen ("The milk shop") near tube stop Moritzplatz. In the heart of what is dubbed the wild and autonomous migrant Kreuzberg you can have a hearty lunch, sandwiches, coffee and (cheese) cake as well as breakfast, vegan, vegetarian and omnivore.

The place is situated a few steps from the flagship store of one of the oldest eco-conscious Berlin fashion labels, Luzifer in Oranienstraße. All their clothes are made of linen and hemp, and unlike other labels they don't have short-lived collections: If you wore out your favourite dress, shirt or pair of trousers, you will usually be able to buy a replacement. When my favourite dress (of which I had two copies) after ten years continous use had too many holes they happily made a new one of the good parts for a very competitive price. They offer both, a men's and a women's collection, and you will often be served a tisane or a cookie in their light and friendly showroom.

Map of all places listed in this article

Shut down

The following places are closed for good:

2022-10-16 21:00:00 [Berlin, Kreuzberg, organic, vegan, Italian, pizza, coffee, ice-cream, supermarkets, fashion, bodycare, household, shoes, deli, grocery, eatery, zero_waste, bakeries, butcher, burgers, confectioners] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.